The Truth about architects and interior designers working together. Photo by Death to Stock The long title of this post is "Don't Believe the Architect that Tells You Not To Hire A Designer".  Why?  Because every project I have seen where there was not a dedicated design professional has had imperfections or elements that need to be "worked around".  Why not hire the design professional to work in conjunction with the architect and get exactly what you want the first time?

I have great respect for architects.  They do things that I can't do.  Some of them have great respect for interior designers and their trade.  Many of them find designers a hinderance to the design process. I am sure some of them can be.  But the greatest result will come from an excellent team working together.

What we must remember is that everyone can't do everything and that there are very specific skills that each team member brings to the table.  There are some architect than can do it all, there are some general contractors that have a great sense of design and scale, there are some designers that also have degrees in architecture.  But these awesome do-it-all types are the exception, not the rule.

I asked a couple of architect friends what they had to say about this.  From Bodgan Bogovan, of Architectural Digest's Top 100 architecture firm Ferguson Shamamian, had this to say:

Interesting subject… I know that some architects could be very possessive about the design monopoly…

In Europe as you may know, a lot of talented architects can actually perform the decorating part of a project quite well (Spain has many examples). Actually, the first architect that I apprenticed with was a French/Romanian architect in Paris who was very much the Frank Lloyd Wright type, designing every single aspect of the project, down to the silverware and china!

Interior designers on the other hand can and do design architectural elements all the time. David Easton (who I worked with many years ago) was actually trained as an architect and contributed a lot to the architectural design of the projects I worked on during my time at Eric Smith Architects…

Of course on large and complicated projects only offices like Peter Marino’s can do it all. Otherwise, a collaborative situation would be ideal, where both architect and interior designer can contribute something unique and personal, and the final product could be less predictable…

Some of the elements I've needed to "work around" when brought on a project too late are: light switches in the middle of the wall, strange angles, storage issues, columns not placed symmetrically, fixtures not centered or too close together, unmatched hardware, clashing design styles, bad paint colors, less-than-ideal surface selection.

My friend, Clay Rokicki of Historical Concepts in Atlanta said,

After working on projects with and without an interior designer as a part of the team, I have gained a better understanding of the value of the design team and the creative synergy created.  I think the best part of having additional talented designers involved is that you never know where a great idea is going to spring from.  Every designer brings a different perspective, expertise, and experiences to the table, and often the resulting collective level of design becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

I have also found that a good interior designer tends to have an intimate understanding of their clients lifestyles, social circles, and the specific preferences of furniture, furnishings, and colors.  It is wonderful working with other talented people and knowing that in the end, you are making each other look good.  A successful project results when the client, design team, and craftsmen all work in harmony to create something worth keeping around for the next few hundred years!

As Clay said, by having more eyes on the project, you'll have more great ideas and less mistakes.

Title Image: Peter Block Architects, photo by Peter Block 

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